Flooding control: Could clearing cause problems?

HARLINGEN — Work crews will clear about 19 acres of trees along the banks of Arroyo Colorado as part of an ongoing project to control flooding.

But city officials are concerned the work along the 3.75-mile stretch could hinder the upcoming Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, destroy native habitat and drive javelina into nearby neighborhoods.

On Monday, the International Water and Boundary Commission will launch a five-month project aimed at clearing 50-foot buffers along the arroyo from McKelvey Park to the Treasure Hills area, Javier Mendez, the city’s parks director, said yesterday.

In its second year, he said, the project will cut trees along a point where the winding arroyo “bottlenecks,” obstructing the IBWC’s regional floodway system.

“There’s so much vegetation it increases the height of the water when it comes down the arroyo and it starts backing it up,” Mendez said.

Clearing the banks will allow the arroyo to carry more floodwater, said Sally Spener, spokeswoman for the IBWC in El Paso.

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